In general, it would seem Paul's advice is consistent for his times.
He lived in a patriarchal society, where women were often considered no
more than property. Also, he felt that Christ's coming was imminent. Thus
to plan for the future, in Paul's eyes, was seen as a waste of time. It
was far more important to keep oneself ready for the Parousia.
Paul's advice on celibacy and marriage can be seen in 1 Corinthians
7:2-17. He basically feel one should remain in one's present state until
the Parousia, unless this is impossible for one's spirit. Thus the best
way, in Paul's eyes, is the unmarried state.
If one has accepted Christ while one is married, this also is
acceptable. Indeed, it is recommended that divorce not be sought, even
if the spouse is heathen. Finally, if one cannot contain one's desires,
marriage is preferable to giving in to one's desires.
In this, Paul is quite consistent. He mentions in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6
how one should not "do his brother wrong in this matter, or invade his
rights," an apt statement for a man of that time. There is no mention of
whether the woman has rights -- it is not seen as needing mentioning. She
seems to have rights only when she is a wife.
In 1 Corinthians 7:36-38, Paul writes, "But if a man has a partner in
celibacy (or a virgin daughter) and feels that he is not behaving
properly towards her, if, that is, his instincts are too strong for him,
(or if she is ripe for marriage) and something must be done, he
may do as he pleases; there is nothing wrong in it; let them marry."
There is no mention in this passage of the woman having any rights,
or how she should behave should her instincts prove too strong. It
probably never even occurred to Paul to consider it.
This must have been fairly effective advice, for it did not advance a
too radical outlook for the time. Saying a girl has the right to refuse
her father in marriage would probably have been too drastic for these
This brings us to Paul's advice on the conduct of women. It does
not seem, as I have stated before, that women had any rights before
marriage. Thus Paul is consistent in not addressing the issue of the
behavior of this type of woman -- they do not exist as people in the
eyes of the law.
He remains consistent when he states that all people are equal in
the eyes of Christ; he does not seem to feel this type of woman is a
person either. Indeed he states, "...man is the image of God, and the
mirror of his glory, whereas woman reflects the glory of man. For man
did not originally spring from woman, but woman was made out of man;
and man was not created for woman's sake, but woman for the sake of man;
...." (1 Corinthians 11:7-9).
Thus he does give women the ability to be considered as people, when
they are united with a man, as that is what he feels they were put on
the Earth for.
In conclusion, I find Paul's advice effective for his time. He did
not espouse anything too untraditional which would have caused too
great fissures in the new, fragile, and fledgling churches. Instead,
he sought passages from the Old Testament to bolster his assertions.
This, coupled with his self-proclaimed mystical empowerment from
Christ, allowed him to come up with an amalgam of the old ways and the
new which his new flocks could understand and accept.
As far as his consistency, I find Paul someone (again) who is a
product of his time. It is true, according to Paul, that all are seen as
equal in Christ's eyes. This does not mean Paul does not have a double
standard appropriate for his time -- men and women are equal, it's just
that some are more equal than others.
In other words, the desires and affairs of men are more important
than those of women, because god wills it so. Thus Paul uses religious
dogma to support the cultural standards of his time.